Veteran's Day is Problematic

BullfrogBullfrog Shipmate
edited November 2020 in Purgatory
This is likely to make some people angry. It is rarely my primary intent to make people angry, but I know that some things are very hard to say without pissing people off. Feel free to take offense, I can sympathize, but understand I'm not posting this to stir things up. It's just a burning thought in my head and this is a place I feel I can put it out and get some conversation that may help.

I was reminded today that it's Veteran's Day when my kid's schoolteacher asked we had any vets in our family. I actually have multiple. Dad, two uncles, three grandparents, and one brother in law. I could probably find more if I went into extended family. Of course there's the mandatory "thank you for you service!"

And that always me really uncomfortable because "gratitude" isn't the word for how I feel about veterans. I can manage respect, war is hell and anyone who gets through it in one piece has been part of an incredible accomplishment. It also puts tremendous strain on the people who pursue it. But...gratitude requires a sense that I received a gift. And no war in my lifetime has ever seemed to be in line with my interests, or with my understanding of the national interests. The wars of the 21st century have struck me as misguidedly idealistic, at best, if not cynically dishonest. I'm not sure we've had a just war in my father's lifetime. Vietnam doesn't seem all that different from Iraq, a foreign adventure with a very tenuous connection to security in the continental US.

And people who sign onto the armed forces, often it's a job. People enlist because it's hard to find employment and the army has its benefits. As any recruiter will tell you, it's a gateway to college and other ways "ahead" in society that otherwise are denied to people who aren't a certain kind of middle class. And in my eyes, there is no shame in that. I understand the circumstances people are in, and often it's the best workplace in town. In some places it seems like the only workplace in town.

But enlistment under those circumstances isn't a personal gift to me, or to the nation state. It's another economic choice.

I think this compounds with the profound injustice of our recent wars to an extent that I fear people need to feel that it was worth it. They need to know that this hell, this bloodshed and violence, breaking minds and bodies and lives was noble and good and worthwhile, so I feel trapped that I have to say some felicitation, but this holiday has no felicity for me. Like the end of World War I, all I can think is "I'm sorry you had to go through that. Never again." There is no joy in it, and little honor except "I'm glad you came out of that alive." And I know at least one guy who didn't.

I can't bring myself to call this heroism. I guess Hemingway's ghost is still haunting us.

[ETA: I'm an American, so please consider my words in an American context.]


Comments

  • Heh. I sympathise. I find it difficult for a very different reason. Both my grandfathers were young men in 1939 and both got jobs in reserved occupations as quickly as they could. We're invited to be grateful that the dead of WWII "gave their today for our tomorrow" but I have to temper that with the thought that, given that my parents were both born after the war started, had my forefathers had the same impulse, I may very well never have existed.

  • BullfrogBullfrog Shipmate
    edited November 2020
    KarlLB wrote: »
    Heh. I sympathise. I find it difficult for a very different reason. Both my grandfathers were young men in 1939 and both got jobs in reserved occupations as quickly as they could. We're invited to be grateful that the dead of WWII "gave their today for our tomorrow" but I have to temper that with the thought that, given that my parents were both born after the war started, had my forefathers had the same impulse, I may very well never have existed.

    Yeah, my mom's parents met in the army during WWII. My dad's parents delayed their marriage because of it.
  • My father trained to be ski troops with the Canadian army. His cousin died as a German POW in an American camp 400 miles distant. Slaughter of his family was the legacy of that war.

    I don't do "support the troops" nor "thank you for your service", the latter being rare in my hearing. It's Remembrance hear and I grateful for much less emphasis on military boosterism this year.

    I agree with you @Bullfrog except that I do think it is shameful to be military. Shame on countries which have this as an "employment" option rather than providing something that contributes positively.
  • Simon ToadSimon Toad Shipmate
    edited November 2020
    When I think of veterans my first and overwhelming thoughts are of WW2, because that was the existential war for us in Australia. That's where the emotional centre of Remembrance Day is for me. As I understand things, it is different for Americans on 11/11 who celebrate service, rather than specifically remembering those who died.

    ANZAC Day in April is primarily for those who survived, and also includes those who serve in whatever capacity in the Armed Forces. But it is really about service overseas, whether that be on peacekeeping and nation-building activities in the Solomons and Timor Leste, service in the badly-conceived Iraq war, or four years hard service in Japanese prison camps or on the Burma Railway. Its not the justice of the cause that matters. For me, that's to be laid at the feet of the politicians.

    The service given by soldiers and auxiliaries such as medical teams remains service by those individuals in the national interests of Australia as conceived by our leaders at that time. There are undoubtedly economic and social reasons lying behind choices to enlist, but it remains service that is likely to result in disability and death. To me, that deserves my thanks and my gratitude.
  • This American understands how the day can bring ambivalent feelings, @Bullfrog.

    My father, who died in 2002, was a veteran of World War II. He dropped out of college to enlist. He was stationed in Europe, and returned after the war was over to finish college on the GI Bill.

    He was one of those veterans who very rarely talked about his war experiences, even to my mother, and he always seemed to be a little uncomfortable being honored as a veteran. It was certainly not something he would bring up himself. I didn’t know for a long time that the rucksack I carried books to school in was his from the Army.

    So I see Veterans Day through a lens formed by my experience as his son, as well as by my own experience of a childhood during which the Vietnam War loomed. (I was born in the early 60s, and my older brother was draft age by the early 70s.) I do think my father and so many others like him was deserving of “thank you,” though he didn’t really want them. Meanwhile so many Vietnam Vets and others were and are deserving of apologies and service to them.

    So Veterans Day is a reflective day for me—one to remember what’s been asked of so many, sometimes with good reason and sometimes not. And for me that involves a mix of gratitude and, for want of better words, repentance and resolution. It rarely includes glib wishes of “thank you for your service” or discounts at McDonalds for veterans.

    On Veterans Day 2016, just after the last presidential election, i noted on the book of faces that while he didn’t talk about his war experience at all, what he did do was play this song and others like it as I was growing up. He loved classical music, including opera or Gilbert and Sullivan, and Big Band music, but often it was Peter, Paul and Mary or other similar albums that went on the record player he had made. My mother might quietly sing along as she did other things.

    I often wondered if he realized what effect growing up on music like this would have on how I see the world. My hunch is that he did.

    I have been thinking of my dad with gratitude and reflection today. Thanks for the opportunity to be a little more intentional about my remembrance.

  • My father trained to be ski troops with the Canadian army. His cousin died as a German POW in an American camp 400 miles distant. Slaughter of his family was the legacy of that war.
    I seem to recall your father's cousin died in an accident at a railroad grade crossing; that's regrettable, but hardly the same as "slaughter".
  • One of my great uncles died of friendly fire while sketching from his foxhole on the Pacific front, I'm told.
  • RuthRuth Admin Emeritus
    edited November 2020
    I've posted about this before, but I'll say it again. My great uncle Heinrich was born in the Crimea and immigrated to the US in the late 1920s. He moved to San Francisco in the early 1940s and apparently joined the Bund there, and then went to Germany and enlisted in the Wehrmacht because he hated Russia so much for what had been done to his family in the 1920s. Exactly what happened to him was not entirely clear until one of my brothers lived in Germany and looked up what happened to his battalion - it was wiped out in 1943. My grandmother never had a grave to visit or even a date of death for her brother.

    He seems to have died for something he believed in, or fighting against something he hated. Either way, he was not honored or thanked for his service, no matter how much he believed he was in the right.

    I'd feel this way anyway, but my great uncle's life underscores it: the people on the other side are also human, also convinced of the rightness of their cause.

    As Wilfred Owen said, it's an old lie: Dulce et decorum est / pro patria mori.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    Ruth, do you know Owen's poem. with the first line:

    So Abram rose, and clave the wood, and went

    and finishing

    And half the seed of Europe, one by one.

    Not sure about copyright so shan't quote more. Well worth digging out if you don't know it already, we think it's probably the best WW I poem.

    Not bad is one of Sassoon's, with the last line:

    The gaunt old man whose lovely sons were dead.

  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    As Owen was killed in action in November 1918, he's been out of copyright for a long time.
  • Years ago, when my son was 8, his class were asked to prepare presentations for Remembrance Day. I suspect he wasn't paying attention to the instructions.

    My son put a lot of effort into his presentation about his great great uncle, who was awarded the DCM during the First World War. His machine gun had jammed, and he fought off Germans in hand to hand combat using a trench hatchet. My son had photos of him in uniform and of his medals (on display in a museum).

    It turned out that the teacher hadn't wanted a presentation about an actual WWI soldier, especially not one who had had a "good" war and survived, but a presentation about the futility of war, young men who had died for nothing etc etc. She definitely hadn't wanted a presentation which included the words "he hacked the Germans to death with a hatchet" even if that was what had happened.

    I could see her point; in many ways I agreed with her. But I wondered about the value of a Remembrance in which the war has to be seen through a fuzzy focus and the actual experience of an actual named soldier isn't "suitable."




  • DafydDafyd Shipmate
    Rudyard Kipling's son died in the First World War.

    Epitaphs of the War, Common Form

    If any question why we died,
    Tell them, because our fathers lied.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    Enoch wrote: »
    As Owen was killed in action in November 1918, he's been out of copyright for a long time.

    A couple of points - you may well be right in the UK, but the Ship is available worldwide and Simon probably does not want to be a test case brought against him in a country where the period is different. And there may well have been a publication that is not yet outside the time limit in the UK, for examople.
  • I can't speak to the US experience, and I am more or less happy with how Remembrance Day is marked in the UK, but I do find the demand that veterans - as a whole, and without discrimination - be given special respect difficult, in that a line can be drawn between those who served in the world wars and otherwise. The UK world war armies were made up of conscripts and volunteers who came forward for the specific wars: otherwise, the British Army is made up of people who have chosen to make that their job, and so presumably were happy with the terms of employment, risks, and level of respect that they would get when they first applied. It's right that we celebrate those who stepped away from their usual life for a national crisis - but what's so special about those who have chosen to make that their way of life?

    OK, this isn't a perfect description (if nothing else, both world wars started with professional UK armies, and UK conscription continued until 1960 when Britain fought a number of other wars, and we have a navy and air force as well as an army) but I hope is clear enough.
  • Fawkes Cat wrote: »
    The UK world war armies were made up of conscripts and volunteers who came forward for the specific wars: otherwise, the British Army is made up of people who have chosen to make that their job, and so presumably were happy with the terms of employment, risks, and level of respect that they would get when they first applied.
    Equally, I find the use of the word "sacrifice" problematic. Fine for those who signed up voluntarily in wartine, less so for conscripts. Indeed, for WW1 in particular, I'd prefer the passive voice: "were sacrificed".

  • Coincidentally to the mention of Owen above, a shipmate's great uncle was awarded the Military Cross for his role in the action in which Owen was killed. I'm commerating him on the book of face today, because he made it to the armistice but never made it home, killed clearing munitions. I'm using him to represent those who "made it", but died of war-related causes, or were "never the same". Wars don't end when the shooting stops, sadly.
  • A moving spot is St Margaret's Church, Bodelwyddan, N Wales. The building is impressive, very prominent from the nearby A55. The church yard includes 112 graves of (mostly) Canadian soldiers from the First World War who died of 'flu while awaiting transport home after the Armistice. These young men had survived the trenches but never made it home.
  • Baptist TrainfanBaptist Trainfan Shipmate
    edited November 2020
    Thank you, didn't know that. Leefe Robinson VC, the first RAF pilot to shoot down a German Zeppelin, also survived the War but succumbed to Spanish flu. Today a nearby pub bears his name.

    One must also remember the terrible train wreck at Quintinshill. near Gretna, in 1915, the worst railway disaster in British history. One of the trains involved was a troop special carrying soldiers of the 1/7th (Leith) Battalion, the Royal Scots. The official death toll was 226, of which 214 were soldiers. What also gives pause for thought is that the battalion was on its way to Gallipoli, where it would have probably been decimated anyway. A memorial plaque and a cairn mark the site.
  • EigonEigon Shipmate
    There are around 10 war graves in one corner of our local cemetery, mostly of Italian prisoners of war, some of whom ended up at a local mental hospital, but with British soldier's graves as well. Our local bugler went and played the Last Post there yesterday.
  • Thank you, didn't know that. Leefe Robinson VC, the first RAF pilot to shoot down a German Zeppelin, also survived the War but succumbed to Spanish flu. Today a nearby pub bears his name.

    One must also remember the terrible train wreck at Quintinshill. near Gretna, in 1915, the worst railway disaster in British history. One of the trains involved was a troop special carrying soldiers of the 1/7th (Leith) Battalion, the Royal Scots. The official death toll was 226, of which 214 were soldiers. What also gives pause for thought is that the battalion was on its way to Gallipoli, where it would have probably been decimated anyway. A memorial plaque and a cairn mark the site.

    Also the horrendous sinking of the Lolaire off Stornoway as it returned demobbed servicemen in 1919, with the loss of over 200 people. Many were found washed up on the shore by loved ones.
  • All of the above. But it all had to be gone through. We only learn, barely, through suffering through each stage of our social evolution. So I stood and bowed my head for two minutes with nine neighbours and my wife.
  • Dave W wrote: »
    My father trained to be ski troops with the Canadian army. His cousin died as a German POW in an American camp 400 miles distant. Slaughter of his family was the legacy of that war.
    I seem to recall your father's cousin died in an accident at a railroad grade crossing; that's regrettable, but hardly the same as "slaughter".
    That's petty of you. My last sentence represents a slaughter. My father's father was one of 5 on his family. The only to get out of Germany before the war was my grandfather. Of the 5 families, there were 4 surviving children of my father's generation. My father and his sister, and two boys born during the war in Germany to the one surviving family there. This is 2 of the 5 families survived. Carpet bombing destroys, killing men, women and children in their homes. Any further questions?
  • Dave W wrote: »
    My father trained to be ski troops with the Canadian army. His cousin died as a German POW in an American camp 400 miles distant. Slaughter of his family was the legacy of that war.
    I seem to recall your father's cousin died in an accident at a railroad grade crossing; that's regrettable, but hardly the same as "slaughter".
    That's petty of you. My last sentence represents a slaughter. My father's father was one of 5 on his family. The only to get out of Germany before the war was my grandfather. Of the 5 families, there were 4 surviving children of my father's generation. My father and his sister, and two boys born during the war in Germany to the one surviving family there. This is 2 of the 5 families survived. Carpet bombing destroys, killing men, women and children in their homes. Any further questions?
    Further questions? I didn't ask you anything in the first place. But it's odd that the only death you mentioned in the previous post was accidental.
  • yohan300yohan300 Shipmate
    edited November 2020
    I would have thought being grateful for the particular wars that current-day veterans have ended up serving in is the wrong way to approach it.

    If one is going to have gratitude for veterans, I'd have though it would be for the fact that they joined up prepared to do whatever was asked of them in order to protect you and your way of life. That may have ended up being several dubious invasions half-way around the world, but that doesn't mean you should be any less grateful for their willingness to serve and face the personal consequences than if they had spent the last ten years battling invading fascists along the Canadian border.
  • chrisstileschrisstiles Shipmate
    edited November 2020
    Bullfrog wrote: »
    Like the end of World War I, all I can think is "I'm sorry you had to go through that. Never again." There is no joy in it, and little honor except "I'm glad you came out of that alive." And I know at least one guy who didn't.

    The commemoration of Remembrance day in the UK does seem to have moved away from a fairly sombre message of 'never again' to one that combines somewhat mawkish sentimentality with strange displays of patriotism (Supermarkets with pizza toppings arranged as poppies, and the White Cliffs of Dover being bombed with poppies).

    This seems to have track in inverse proportion the number of the veterans of the World Wars still alive.
  • yohan300 wrote: »
    I would have thought being grateful for the particular wars that current-day veterans have ended up serving in is the wrong way to approach it.

    If one is going to have gratitude for veterans, I'd have though it would be for the fact that they joined up prepared to do whatever was asked of them in order to protect you and your way of life. That may have ended up being several dubious invasions half-way around the world, but that doesn't mean you should be any less grateful for their willingness to serve and face the personal consequences than if they had spent the last ten years battling invading fascists along the Canadian border.

    How does bombing weddings and schools thousands of miles away protect me and my way of life?
  • Pomona wrote: »
    yohan300 wrote: »
    I would have thought being grateful for the particular wars that current-day veterans have ended up serving in is the wrong way to approach it.

    If one is going to have gratitude for veterans, I'd have though it would be for the fact that they joined up prepared to do whatever was asked of them in order to protect you and your way of life. That may have ended up being several dubious invasions half-way around the world, but that doesn't mean you should be any less grateful for their willingness to serve and face the personal consequences than if they had spent the last ten years battling invading fascists along the Canadian border.

    How does bombing weddings and schools thousands of miles away protect me and my way of life?
    Load of things happened during the "good" wars that didn't protect your way of life and many atrocities that are supposed to be anti-antithetical to your way of life occurred.
    The military that serves in times of safety is the same military that serves in times of crisis. They are not practically or logically separable.
    Unless one is a complete 'Let them do as they will, I will not raise my hand to strike' pacifist, there is no clean distinction.


  • DooneDoone Shipmate
    Bullfrog wrote: »
    Like the end of World War I, all I can think is "I'm sorry you had to go through that. Never again." There is no joy in it, and little honor except "I'm glad you came out of that alive." And I know at least one guy who didn't.

    The commemoration of Remembrance day in the UK does seem to have moved away from a fairly sombre message of 'never again' to one that combines somewhat mawkish sentimentality with strange displays of patriotism (Supermarkets with pizza toppings arranged as poppies, and the White Cliffs of Dover being bombed with poppies).

    This seems to have track in inverse proportion the number of the veterans of the World Wars still alive.

    I totally agree with you, sadly.
  • I think that some of the recruitment in WWI which looked like volunteering was little different from conscription. I used to sing the chorus of "Sussex by the Sea", until I knew the verses, which are all about marching off together - to be happy soldiers. (I find that it is also the regimental march of the 25th Battalion, Royal Queensland Regiment, Australia, which seems unlikely.)
    My grandfather, too old, so went as an orderly for field hospital work, took me to the Road of Remembrance in Folkestone, and explained how it had been built for the men to march down to the special pier built for embarkation, and that the guns could be heard as they went. And that many of them never came back. (Some, I've found out, were his close relations.)
    If you teach people to believe that it is a noble thing they do, and give them jolly songs to sing as they do it, is it volunteering, or conscription by psychological means?
  • Penny S wrote: »
    If you teach people to believe that it is a noble thing they do, and give them jolly songs to sing as they do it, is it volunteering, or conscription by psychological means?

    The Pals battalions. Join up with your mates, fight with your mates. Also meant that when your particular Pals battalion found itself at the focal point of some particular piece of trench idiocy, your town lost hundreds of men in one day.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    Equally, I find the use of the word "sacrifice" problematic. Fine for those who signed up voluntarily in wartine, less so for conscripts. Indeed, for WW1 in particular, I'd prefer the passive voice: "were sacrificed".

    All Australians who served overseas in WW I were volunteers. That meant that there were over 400,000 volunteers out of a population of just under 5 million - perhaps that is part of the continued remembrance of those who went.
  • Far as causes of death, I recall that for most of human history, the vast majority of wartime deaths were caused by things like infectious disease.
  • RussRuss Shipmate
    Bullfrog wrote: »
    And that always me really uncomfortable because "gratitude" isn't the word for how I feel about veterans. I can manage respect, war is hell and anyone who gets through it in one piece has been part of an incredible accomplishment. It also puts tremendous strain on the people who pursue it. But...gratitude requires a sense that I received a gift.

    I have a similar difficulty with those Christians who want me to feel gratitude for Jesus' saving death.

    Not to divert the thread; just to observe that being sold a narrative that means one ought to be grateful seems faintly abusive.

    Nobody wants to be thought ungrateful.

    But gratitude to someone requires both a real sense that things might well have been worse, and that that someone has gone out of their way to prevent that.

    Seems like you're doubting both halves - that the world is a better place for recent wars having been fought, and that anyone on Our Side went out of their way to take up arms to fight them.
  • Russ wrote: »
    Bullfrog wrote: »
    And that always me really uncomfortable because "gratitude" isn't the word for how I feel about veterans. I can manage respect, war is hell and anyone who gets through it in one piece has been part of an incredible accomplishment. It also puts tremendous strain on the people who pursue it. But...gratitude requires a sense that I received a gift.

    I have a similar difficulty with those Christians who want me to feel gratitude for Jesus' saving death.

    Not to divert the thread; just to observe that being sold a narrative that means one ought to be grateful seems faintly abusive.

    Nobody wants to be thought ungrateful.

    But gratitude to someone requires both a real sense that things might well have been worse, and that that someone has gone out of their way to prevent that.

    Seems like you're doubting both halves - that the world is a better place for recent wars having been fought, and that anyone on Our Side went out of their way to take up arms to fight them.

    Trouble is I'm not persuaded that "the world is a better place for recent wars having been fought."

    I'm don't think there has been a war like that in my adult life. I don't know if there has been one in my father's.
  • Bullfrog wrote: »
    Russ wrote: »
    Bullfrog wrote: »
    And that always me really uncomfortable because "gratitude" isn't the word for how I feel about veterans. I can manage respect, war is hell and anyone who gets through it in one piece has been part of an incredible accomplishment. It also puts tremendous strain on the people who pursue it. But...gratitude requires a sense that I received a gift.

    I have a similar difficulty with those Christians who want me to feel gratitude for Jesus' saving death.

    Not to divert the thread; just to observe that being sold a narrative that means one ought to be grateful seems faintly abusive.

    Nobody wants to be thought ungrateful.

    But gratitude to someone requires both a real sense that things might well have been worse, and that that someone has gone out of their way to prevent that.

    Seems like you're doubting both halves - that the world is a better place for recent wars having been fought, and that anyone on Our Side went out of their way to take up arms to fight them.

    Trouble is I'm not persuaded that "the world is a better place for recent wars having been fought."

    I'm don't think there has been a war like that in my adult life. I don't know if there has been one in my father's.

    The closest I can think of is the UK's intervention in Sierra Leone, but that was ending an already-begun conflict rather than starting one. You could make a similar case, with a similar caveat, to taking on da'esh.
  • Bullfrog wrote: »
    Russ wrote: »
    Bullfrog wrote: »
    And that always me really uncomfortable because "gratitude" isn't the word for how I feel about veterans. I can manage respect, war is hell and anyone who gets through it in one piece has been part of an incredible accomplishment. It also puts tremendous strain on the people who pursue it. But...gratitude requires a sense that I received a gift.

    I have a similar difficulty with those Christians who want me to feel gratitude for Jesus' saving death.

    Not to divert the thread; just to observe that being sold a narrative that means one ought to be grateful seems faintly abusive.

    Nobody wants to be thought ungrateful.

    But gratitude to someone requires both a real sense that things might well have been worse, and that that someone has gone out of their way to prevent that.

    Seems like you're doubting both halves - that the world is a better place for recent wars having been fought, and that anyone on Our Side went out of their way to take up arms to fight them.

    Trouble is I'm not persuaded that "the world is a better place for recent wars having been fought."

    I'm don't think there has been a war like that in my adult life. I don't know if there has been one in my father's.

    The closest I can think of is the UK's intervention in Sierra Leone, but that was ending an already-begun conflict rather than starting one. You could make a similar case, with a similar caveat, to taking on da'esh.

    I'll grant daesh, though in that case...it's using war to wipe up a mess that war created. I can respect that fight, but it's still just...sad. All so avoidable.
  • Bullfrog wrote: »
    Bullfrog wrote: »
    Russ wrote: »
    Bullfrog wrote: »
    And that always me really uncomfortable because "gratitude" isn't the word for how I feel about veterans. I can manage respect, war is hell and anyone who gets through it in one piece has been part of an incredible accomplishment. It also puts tremendous strain on the people who pursue it. But...gratitude requires a sense that I received a gift.

    I have a similar difficulty with those Christians who want me to feel gratitude for Jesus' saving death.

    Not to divert the thread; just to observe that being sold a narrative that means one ought to be grateful seems faintly abusive.

    Nobody wants to be thought ungrateful.

    But gratitude to someone requires both a real sense that things might well have been worse, and that that someone has gone out of their way to prevent that.

    Seems like you're doubting both halves - that the world is a better place for recent wars having been fought, and that anyone on Our Side went out of their way to take up arms to fight them.

    Trouble is I'm not persuaded that "the world is a better place for recent wars having been fought."

    I'm don't think there has been a war like that in my adult life. I don't know if there has been one in my father's.

    The closest I can think of is the UK's intervention in Sierra Leone, but that was ending an already-begun conflict rather than starting one. You could make a similar case, with a similar caveat, to taking on da'esh.

    I'll grant daesh, though in that case...it's using war to wipe up a mess that war created. I can respect that fight, but it's still just...sad. All so avoidable.

    Most "Just Wars" are cleaning up the mess created by previous wars. WWII being the platonic example of such.
  • Bullfrog wrote: »
    Bullfrog wrote: »
    Russ wrote: »
    Bullfrog wrote: »
    And that always me really uncomfortable because "gratitude" isn't the word for how I feel about veterans. I can manage respect, war is hell and anyone who gets through it in one piece has been part of an incredible accomplishment. It also puts tremendous strain on the people who pursue it. But...gratitude requires a sense that I received a gift.

    I have a similar difficulty with those Christians who want me to feel gratitude for Jesus' saving death.

    Not to divert the thread; just to observe that being sold a narrative that means one ought to be grateful seems faintly abusive.

    Nobody wants to be thought ungrateful.

    But gratitude to someone requires both a real sense that things might well have been worse, and that that someone has gone out of their way to prevent that.

    Seems like you're doubting both halves - that the world is a better place for recent wars having been fought, and that anyone on Our Side went out of their way to take up arms to fight them.

    Trouble is I'm not persuaded that "the world is a better place for recent wars having been fought."

    I'm don't think there has been a war like that in my adult life. I don't know if there has been one in my father's.

    The closest I can think of is the UK's intervention in Sierra Leone, but that was ending an already-begun conflict rather than starting one. You could make a similar case, with a similar caveat, to taking on da'esh.

    I'll grant daesh, though in that case...it's using war to wipe up a mess that war created. I can respect that fight, but it's still just...sad. All so avoidable.

    That reminds me, is the U.K. still involved in bombing Syria ?
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